Justia Admiralty & Maritime Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in International Trade
Dimond Rigging Co. v. BDP International, Inc.
Dimond was hired by a Chinese manufacturer to “rig, dismantle, wash, and pack,” and ship used automotive assembly-line equipment to China. Dimond, which lacked experience in international shipment, hired BDP. Dimond asserted that BDP did not disclose that it was not a licensed Ocean Transport Intermediary by the Federal Maritime Commission. In May 2011, BDP informed Dimond that it had obtained a ship and sent a booking note to Dimond. Between May and October 2011, Dimond dismantled and weighed the equipment and prepared a “preliminary" packing list. BDP allegedly provided the preliminary packing list when it obtained quotes from third-party contractors to load the Equipment. In October 2011, BDP notified Dimond that the ship was no longer available. Dimond asserted that BDP “without Dimond’s knowledge, consent or approval” hired Logitrans to perform BDP’s freight forwarding duties. BDP and Logitrans hired a ship. As a result of many ensuing difficulties, Dimond became involved in multiple lawsuits, including suits with its Chinese customer and the stevedores. Dimond sued BDP in July 2013 but never served BDP with the complaint. When the summons expired, the district court dismissed without prejudice. In August 2017, Dimond filed a Motion to Amend and Praecipe for Issuance of Amended Summons for its 2013 suit. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of the motion. The suit was not timely filed within the one-year statute of limitations set forth in the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act. View "Dimond Rigging Co. v. BDP International, Inc." on Justia Law
United States v. Bengis
From 1987 to 2001, Bengis and Noll engaged in a scheme to harvest large quantities of South Coast and West Coast rock lobsters from South African waters for export to the United States in violation of both South African and U.S. law. Defendants, through their company, Hout Bay, harvested rock lobsters in amounts that exceeded the South African Department of Marine and Coastal Management’s quotas. In 2001, South Africa seized a container of unlawfully harvested lobsters, declined to prosecute the individuals, but charged Hout Bay with overfishing. Bengis pleaded guilty on behalf of Hout Bay. South Africa cooperated with a parallel investigation conducted by the United States. The two pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit smuggling and violate the Lacey Act, which prohibits trade in illegally taken fish and wildlife, and to substantive violations of the Lacey Act. Bengis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act. The district court entered a restitution order requiring the defendants to pay $22,446,720 to South Africa. The Second Circuit affirmed, except with respect to the extent of Bengis’s liability, rejecting an argument the restitution order violated their Sixth Amendment rights. View "United States v. Bengis" on Justia Law
Angelex Ltd. v. United States
The government appealed the district court's order which altered the terms of a bond the Coast Guard had fixed for the release of a detained ship that was under investigation and restricted the types of penalties the government could seek for the ship's potential violations of certain ocean pollution prevention statutes. The ship at issue, the Pappadakis, an ocean-going bulk cargo carrier carrying a shipment of coal to Brazil, was detained by the Coast Guard because the vessel had likely been discharging bilge water overboard. The court reversed and remanded for dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) where the matter was not subject to review in the district court because the Coast Guard's actions were committed to agency discretion by law. Consequently, the district court lacked jurisdiction to consider the petition. View "Angelex Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law
Man Ferrostaal, Inc. v. M/V Akili
Appellants, the M/V Akili, its owner, and manager, appealed from the district court's judgment holding that it was liable in rem for damage to cargo shipped aboard the vessel. Ferrostaal cross-appealed from the holding that the owner and manager were not liable in personam under a bailment theory. At issue was whether (1) an in rem proceeding rendering the Akili liable for damage to, or loss of, cargo was unavailable in this matter because a vessel was not a "carrier" within the meaning of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA), 46 U.S.C. 30701, and (ii) the free-in-and-out provision in the Voyage Charter Party purportedly absolving the Akili of in rem liability was enforceable. The court held that the first issue was essentially irrelevant because a vessel's in rem liability for damage to cargo existed under maritime common law, not COGSA, for a violation of a carrier's contractual or statutory obligations. The court resolved the second issue against enforcement of the free-in-and-out provision so far as it might be construed to prevent in rem liability of the vessel. In doing so, the court did not decide whether COGSA applied as a matter of law to this voyage because, even if it did not, the Voyage Charter Party's Clause Paramount contractually incorporated the Hague-Visby rules prohibiting a carrier from contracting for a waiver of its obligations regarding damage to cargo. The court also held that there was no in personam liability for the owner and manager where the carriers remained responsible for delivery of the goods and maintained exclusive control and custody over the cargos through agents they hired directly. View "Man Ferrostaal, Inc. v. M/V Akili" on Justia Law
Lindo v. NCL (Bahamas), LTD
Plaintiff appealed the district court's enforcement of the arbitration agreement in his employment contract with defendant. Plaintiff sued defendant on a single count of Jones Act negligence, pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 30104, claiming that defendant breached its duty to supply him with a safe place to work. The court held that, given the United Nations Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention) and governing Supreme Court and Circuit Court precedent, the court must enforce the arbitration clause in plaintiff's employment contract, at least at this initial arbitration-enforcement stage. Therefore, after review and oral argument, the court affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration of plaintiff's Jones Act negligence claim.View "Lindo v. NCL (Bahamas), LTD" on Justia Law
Cape Flattery Ltd. v. Titan Maritime, LLC
Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant, seeking indemnity and/or contribution based on the damage defendant allegedly caused through gross negligence in removing plaintiff's vessel from a coral reef. At issue was whether the district court properly denied defendant's motion to compel arbitration of the dispute under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., where defendant alleged that the district court erred in refusing to apply English arbitrability law. The court held that based on the Supreme Court's reasoning in First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, courts should apply non-federal arbitrability law only if there was clear and unmistakable evidence that the parties intended to apply such non-federal law. Because there was no clear and unmistakable evidence in this case, federal arbitrability law applied. Under federal arbitrability law, the court's decisions in Mediterranean Enterprises, Inc. v. Ssangyong Construction Co. and Tracer Research Corp. v. National Environmental Services, Co., mandated a narrow interpretation of a clause providing for arbitration of all disputes "arising under" an agreement. Under this narrow interpretation, the present dispute was not arbitrable. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment.View "Cape Flattery Ltd. v. Titan Maritime, LLC" on Justia Law
India Steamship Co. Ltd. v. Kobil Petroleum Ltd.
Plaintiff appealed from an order of the district court vacating the attachment, pursuant to Rule B of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, of a check issued by the district court clerk made payable to defendant. At issue was whether the validity of a Rule B attachment of a treasury check issued from the Southern District's Court Registry Investment System (CRIS), representing the proceeds of electronic funds transfers whose attachment was vacated under Shipping Corp. of India Ltd. v. Jaldhi Overseas Pte Ltd. The court held that the jurisdictional defect that led to the vacatur under Jaldhi likewise precluded the attachment of the same funds in the CRIS. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. View "India Steamship Co. Ltd. v. Kobil Petroleum Ltd." on Justia Law
Chem One, Ltd. v. M/V Rickmers Genoa; Atlantic Coast Yacht Sales, Inc. v. ESM Group, Inc.; St. Paul Travelers v. M/V Rickmers Genoa
The interlocutory appeals subject to the motion before the court arose from conjoined multi-party actions stemming from a maritime disaster during which the M/V Rickmers Genoa vessel collided with the M/V Sun Cross vessel in the Yellow Sea. On their motion to dismiss appeals from two interlocutory orders for summary judgment entered in their favor in the district court, or in the alternative, for consolidation of the appeals in the captioned actions involving claims arising out of the maritime casualty, the ESM party defendants contended that the appeals were premature and not authorized by the maritime interlocutory appeal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(3), and that consolidation of the appeals was warranted by reason of equity and economy. The court held that, given that the district court had determined conclusively all of the claims against the ESM parties, and that decision was unaffected by any remaining claims, the court could exercise appellate jurisdiction over the present appeals under section 1292(a)(3). Delaying appeal merely because a "final judgment" as to all of the claims against all of the parties had not been issued would defeat the interlocutory nature of section 1292(a)(3) and effectively render the statute a nullity in the modern era of litigation in which admiralty suits frequently involved multiple parties and claims. Therefore, the motion to dismiss was denied. The court granted, however, the motion brought by ESM insofar as they sought consolidation because the appeals arose from the same conjoined multi-party litigation in the district court, and consolidation would be both efficient and equitable for the disposition of the appeals. Moreover, consolidation was unopposed. View "Chem One, Ltd. v. M/V Rickmers Genoa; Atlantic Coast Yacht Sales, Inc. v. ESM Group, Inc.; St. Paul Travelers v. M/V Rickmers Genoa" on Justia Law
Fed. Ins. Co. v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
Federal Insurance Company (FIC) sued for damage to property destroyed during the inland leg of international intermodal carriage where FIC was the subrogee of the shipper which contracted with an ocean carrier, APL Co. Ptc. Ltd. (APL), to ship goods from Singapore to Alabama. The district court ruled that a covenant not to sue in the through bill of lading required FIC to sue the carrier, APL, rather than the subcontractor. At issue was what legal regime applied to the shipment's inland leg under the through bill of lading and whether the applicable legal regime prohibited the covenant not to sue. The court held that the district court did not err by enforcing the covenant not to sue and granting summary judgment to the subcontractor where the requirements that FIC sue APL directly was valid under the Hague Rules and the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA), 46 U.S.C. 30701. View "Fed. Ins. Co. v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law
QT Trading, L.P. v. M/V Saga Morus, et al
QT Trading, L.P. ("QT") sued defendants for rust damage to its steel pipes that allegedly occurred during their transport from Dalian, China to Houston, Texas. At issue was whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to in personam defendants on QT's claims for damages under the Carriage of Goods at Sea Act ("COGSA"), 46 U.S.C. 30701 note (Carriage of Goods by Sea), and for negligent bailment of its goods. The court affirmed summary judgment and held that the district court properly dismissed QT's COGSA claims where QT failed to establish genuine issues of material fact where none of the defendants were "carriers" and thus could not be liable for damages under the statute. The court also held that the district court properly dismissed QT's bailment claims where QT failed to show that a certain defendant had exclusive possession of the cargo.